Queenstown pilot Antony Sproull is about to set off on what
he sees as the adventure of a lifetime.
The 29-year-old left the resort yesterday bound for a
20,000km flight home, ferrying a $2 million Cessna Caravan
home for his father, Air Milford owner Hank Sproull.
The pair flew to Greece in October to collect the 14-seater
aircraft, which will bring the Air Milford fleet to four, but
were forced to return to New Zealand without it.
Yesterday Antony, Air Milford's operations manager, began the
journey to Athens to collect the plane, which he will fly
during the 60-hour journey home with two experienced
Australian ferry pilots, Jim Hazelton (84) and Richard Purdy,
at his side.
Mr Hazelton will direct the flight paths through the epic
''Jim has the knowledge and contacts to lead us through the
safest flying routes,'' Antony said.
The trio will fly home via the Greek Islands and Egypt,
spending New Year's Eve on the Nile.
They will then fly across the Red Sea via Saudi Arabia to
Southern Oman, the Maldives and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in
the Indian Ocean.
From there they will fly to Broome, Western Australia, on to
Alice Springs and land in Queenstown in mid-January.
Their journey will be live tracked through the Air Milford
The ''near new'' 675hp 208 Caravan has 300 hours on the clock
and comes with state-of-the-art cockpit technology - the
first of its kind to be operated between Queenstown and
The plane's Garmin G1000 GPS instrument technology meant Air
Milford had the potential to operate commercially into
Milford on instrument flight rules (IFR), enabling flights to
continue in bad weather.
Antony Sproull said the technology was known as ''the glass
''It's basically three iPads across your cockpit and that's
''You've got three flat screen iPads handling your controls.
''This GPS technology is very new and a huge advancement. On
average, we can only fly into Milford 250 days a year because
of bad weather.
''This might push that out to potentially 300, so it's a huge
economic advantage for Milford and Queenstown.''
Hank Sproull is IFR rated.